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FAI post loss of €5 million for 2019 and show debts of almost €70 million in grim set of accounts

Chairperson Roy Barrett says the figures show ‘how deep that pain runs throughout our game.’

A view of FAI HQ in Abbottstown.
A view of FAI HQ in Abbottstown.
Image: ©INPHO

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION of Ireland today posted a loss of €5.1 million for 2019 and have debts of nearly €70 million.

The annual accounts for 2019 were approved by the Board of Directors via a virtual meeting yesterday, and the Association released them to the public just minutes after today’s 2022 World Cup qualifying draw concluded and shortly before an arranged set of media interviews involving manager Stephen Kenny. 

Though the annual loss has reduced slightly from the restated 2018 figure of €7.7 million, the overall figures paint a bleak outlook for the FAI and Irish football. 

“We will recall 2019 as the year Irish football became accountable again and finally found a vision for the future through the pain of the past”, writes Chairperson Roy Barrett in his  report. 

“You will see from the attached financial statements how deep that pain runs throughout our game but I am confident, as we near the end of the most abnormal year in living memory, that Irish football will be the better for all of this.” 

The 2019 accounts were audited by Grant Thornton, having been audited by Deloitte for the previous 23 years. Deloitte resigned as auditors of the FAI at the beginning of this year, and in April 2019 filed a notice against the FA claiming proper accounting records had not been kept. 

With a state bailout not yet agreed when last year’s accounts were published, Deloitte refused to say they considered the FAI a going concern. Grant Thornton approved these accounts on the basis the FAI remains a going concern, following the approval of an interest-free loan from the State toward payments on the Aviva Stadium along with the agreement of a new €24 million loan facility with Bank of Ireland.

Grant Thornton sound a note of caution in the context of the Covid-19 crisis, however, writing “there remains a material uncertainty in respect of going concern for the foreseeable future.”

The other headline finding showed the 2018 Net Asset position has had to be restated from a surplus to a net liability position of €532,000.

This is owing largely to an overstatement of income in the 2014 accounts: a Uefa TV contract deal beginning in July 2014 was instead included as income beginning in January 2014. To adjust this error and maintain the correct figures through to the 2022 accounts, opening reserves in the 2018 accounts were reduced by €4.63 million. 

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Today’s accounts show the FAI’s current liabilities are an enormous €69.75 million, which has grown from €58.2 million in 2018. 

Annual turnover dropped by €3.7 million to €42.6 million, while sponsorship income fell by €400,000 to €7.6 million. Within the turnover figure there was a significant decline in match income, which fell by 33% to €8.1 million. That figure will be further affected in the 2020 accounts, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Sport Ireland’s decision to suspend state funding to the FAI last year saw that income halved to €1.4 million. This state funding is ring fenced for different parts of the game, and thus 2019 saw FAI Education and Women in Sport programmes lose all of their funding. Money ring fenced for Player Development was cut from €400,410 to €80,000.

The FAI have been granted €13 million by the State in Covid-19 relief, with €2 million of this given to leagues and clubs, and in October, agreed a $5 million interest-free loan with Fifa as further Covid relief, repayable over 10 years from 2022. 

There is no record of additional Covid relief from Uefa.

The FAI last year received advance funds of monies owed from Uefa to stay afloat. This year’s accounts show they owe €8.5 million of that money, and are paying up to 4% interest on it. 

The accounts also report the FAI received €6,000,000 in 2018 from a sponsorship agreement beginning in 2020. 

Elsewhere, it’s reported the FAI made a voluntary payment of €3,577,909 to the Revenue Commission, which has yet to be accepted. The FAI were the subject of an audit by Revenue last year, and the Association made voluntary disclosures of underpaid employment taxes and VAT, estimated at €3,577,909. This has yet to be accepted by Revenue. 

The 2019 accounts also record the €462,000 severance package paid to former Chief Executive John Delaney, which had been included as an exceptional item in last year’s accounts.

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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